What is This?

 

This is the third in a series of posts that describes how to use Mastodon if you are a screen reader user. It is an alternative form of documentation, but is not intended to replace the originaldocumentation for Mastodon or your screen reader. If you have just found this post, I strongly suggest you go back and read the first two chapters, links to which are in the next section.

 

The Road So Far…

 

  • Chapter One gave an introduction to the series, explained my reasons for writing it, and suggested things a person might need before joining an instance.
  • Chapter Two took a closer look at what Mastodon actually is, gave details about how to join instances, and briefly described the signup process.

 

If you haven’t done these things, now is your chance to go back and read these chapters. Otherwise, move on to the next section.

 

What is in This Chapter?

 

This chapter walks you through the process of completing your profile, as well as sending your first post, know as a Toot.

 

Before We Begin…

 

Before we begin, I want to talk about keyboard shortcuts. Rather than list all of the keyboard shortcuts for Mastodon, I ‘ve decided to bring them up when they occur in context. For example, when we are talking about sending a new post, those keyboard shortcuts will be listed in the directions. You can find a complete, out of context list here, or under the “Getting Started” section of your home page for your instance.

 

Similarly, I’m not going to list key commands for every screen reader. This guide assumes that you are mostly familiar with your own screen reader, or that you at least know how to access the documentation. The exception to this is when I need to make an example, or point out a situation where I know a specific screen reader behaves differently than expected.

 

Full Disclosure

 

I have not personally tested every screen reader. I know people with other screen readers are quite successful at using this platform, but I’m not aware of every single quirk there is. If you find that something doesn’t behave as described, feel free to leave it in the comments section, or use the contact form on the Contact page to get in touch. I’m even willing to work with you to try and work through any issues you may experience, as I know this is a lot of information.

 

For the record, I use Chrome with Chromevox on ChromeOS. Your experience may vary depending on browser, screen reader, and instance.

 

If you plan to primarily use a mobile device, chapter Six (to be published) will talk more about apps for this platform. You will need to consult the app’s documentation to bridge the gap.

 

Terms in This Chapter (in order of discussion)

 

  • Profile
  • Header
  • Avatar
  • Animated Avatar
  • bio
  • metadata
  • bot account
  • profile directory
  • verified content
  • Toot

 

Completing Your Profile

 

Now that you’ve signed up for an instance, it’s time to create your profile. This is what other users will see when they come to your page on the instance. It does not offer as many options as a standard Facebook profile, but it’s also got more customization and flexibility than other microblogging services typically offer.

 

To edit your profile, do the following:

  1. Log in to your instance.
  2.  If your screen reader puts your focus on the “Compose new Toot” box, move away from it, and then go to the top of the page.
  3.  Find the link that says “Edit profile”, and click it.
  4.  Use standard navigation to move through and fill out the web form. If you move through the page using the arrows rather than the tab key, you’ll find helpful hints for each piece of content you can include. They will also be described here.
  5.  When finished, click the button that says “Save Changes”.

 

Profile Elements

 

All of your profile elements are optional. Some of these you’ve most likely seen before, and some of these will be new. I’ll go through them now.

 

Display Name

 

This is where you put your name, or what you like to be called. You can include emojis. It’s worth noting that, unlike Facebook, Mastodon does not require you to use your real name.

 

Header

 

Header is an image that goes at the top of your profile. you can use it to express an interest, hobby, belief system, etc. Note that whatever picture you use will be resized to 1500x500px, and is limited to a size of 2MB.

 

Avatar

 

An avatar is a picture, separate from your header, that represents you, the user. The maximum file size is 2MB, and the picture will be resized to 400x400px.

 

Be Picky About Your Pictures

 

When choosing both your header and avatar, remember to make sure both pictures keep to the code of conduct for your instance. For more information about instances and codes of conduct, see Chapter Two

 

Animated Avatar

 

An animated avatar is an avatar that moves, like the pictures in Harry Potter. Mastodon lets you use these, but keep in mind that many users find animated avatars distracting, and these kinds of avatars can be dangerous for people who are prone to seizures. It seems best to avoid these to me, but that’s just my own experience.

 

Bio

 

Your bio is your biography. Not the kind that starts something like, “I was born on a dark and stormy night in the heat of summer,” but a snapshot of the things you’re interested in. If you put a hashtag (#) on these, you can add yourself to the profile directory, which lets others find you by interest. If you don’t want that, don’t hashtag, and uncheck the box to include your profile in the directory. You can also lock your account, so that people have to send you requests to follow you.

 

Bot Account

 

bot account is an automated account. If you’re reading this, you’re not one of them.

 

Metadata

 

Metadata is the section of your profile whete you put things that didn’t make it into your bio, but you want people to know about. You can put up to four items here. Each item gets a label, and a place for the content. This is a good spot for links to other profiles.

 

Verified Content

 

verified content is a way to verify to users that you own the content your linking to in your metadata. It uses rel=”me” links to do this. Rel=”me” is far beyond the scope of this discussion, but you can check out my H-Card in the sidebar of this page to see them in action.

 

Suggestions

 

Here are some suggestions for completing your profile. The best thing to do is to try each thing on to see if it fits you. You can edit your profile as often as you like.

 

  • Be authentic. Mastodon is a big world. You’ll find someone who shares your interests.
  •  Remember that the bio is only a snapshot. It’s okay if not every detail is there. That’s what posting is for.
  •  Consider including your pronouns somewhere in your profile. Mastodon has become very popular for GLBTQIA folks, and the result ispeople may be uncomfortable making assumptions based on your name, physical appearance, etc. To make sure everyone has a comfortable experience, provide your pronouns so people will know how to refer to you. It can either go directly in your bio, or be part of the metadata.

 

Now that your profile is complete and you’ve saved the changes, find the link at the top of the page that says, “Mastodon”. Click it to return to the main page. You’re ready to send your first post.

 

Posting Your First Toot

 

Toot is what Mastodon calls users’ statuses. In this section, we’ll be posting a toot that says, “Hello World.” From the main page of your Mastodon instance, press Alt+N to compose a new toot. Alternatively, use your screen reader’s jump command for edit boxes to get to the compose box. Once you do, use the command that lets your screen reader know you want to enter text.

 

Elements of the Compose Box

 

You can use Tab and Shift+Tab to navigate the compose box. We’ll be discussing what each element does in more detail in the next chapter, but here’s what you can expect to find.

 

  1.  Multi-line edit box.
  2.  Insert Emoji dropdown.
  3.  Add Media button.
  4.  Add a Pole button.
  5.  Adjust Status Privacy dropdown.
  6.  “Text is not Hidden” dropdown. This is where you can set a content warning.
  7.  Toot button.

 

Compose Your “Hello World” Toot: Method One

 

  1.  Navigate to the compose box with Alt+N, or with the jump command for edit boxes specific to your screen reader.
  2.  Make sure your screen reader is set to enter text into the box. Common names for this are Forms mode (JAWS), Focus Mode (NVDA), etc.
  3.  Type “hello World.” into the box without the quotes.
  4.  Tab until you hear “Toot”, and activate that button.

 

Composing Your “Hello World” Toot: method Two

 

  1.  Navigate to the compose box with Alt+N, or with the jump command for edit boxes specific to your screen reader.
  2.  Make sure your screen reader is set to enter text into the box. Common names for this are Forms mode (JAWS), Focus Mode (NVDA), etc.
  3.  Type “hello World.” into the box without the quotes.
  4.  Press CTRL+Enter to send the Toot.

 

Coming Up

 

In Chapter Four, we’ll be taking a more detailed look at working with posts, as well as finding people to follow. In the meantime, this is a good time to sit back and relax. It’s been a long road so far.

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